U.S. Representative Don Bacon, R-Neb., visited the AIM Brain Exchange Friday to kick off the Congressional App Challenge.
He was joined by a round-table panel of business, education and community leaders to talk about efforts to support tech education and expand diversity in tech-related fields.
The Congressional App Challenge is an annual competition aimed at encouraging kids to learn to code.
Students in congressional districts that host the challenge have the chance to build and submit an app. If they win, the app is displayed in the Capitol building in Washington D.C.
Rep. Bacon kicked off the round-table discussion by noting how crucial technology and tech education is to national security.
He cited an example of special forces that use robotic applications to help keep soldiers out of harm’s way, and he noted how exponentially tech is evolving.
“Moore’s Law is in effect. What is it going to look like 50 years from now? That’s why we have to invest in [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education] or we are going to fall behind as a country,” he said.
The panel discussed local efforts to attract kids to tech education, and efforts to expand diversity in the tech realm.
At one point, they took questions from students from Monroe Middle School. Angel, an 8th grader, asked what the educators were doing to put themselves in the mindsets of teenagers.
One panelist offered the example of using virtual reality headsets to show how building construction happens, from the blueprints to the finished building.
Diversity in tech was a central part of the conversation. Panelists said it was crucial to foster a diverse workforce in tech-related fields so young people see adults who look like them working in those jobs.
“Everywhere I go, I hear…there’s a shortage of technical training in our schools. That’s where the needs are at in our country,” said Bacon.
Bacon said the deadline to register for the Congressional App Challenge is September 10, and the deadline to submit the app is October 15. For more information, click here.